Now the snow has settled here in the north. Not sure if it’s here to stay, but it’s more beautiful and brighter in the autumn darkness now that the ground is white.
In last week’s letter, I talked about why it seems that some businesses are at a standstill. You have business systems that look the same as they did 30 years ago. There are probably other things that don’t keep up with the technological developments that we experience outside of work. What we see, for example, is that:
- Customers are not able to change their information themselves.
- The e-services are no more than a form.
- The business system does not communicate with any other system as they are not open and transparent.
- We have lots of manual work that needs to be done.
- And suppliers are far from interested in helping with that.
Part of it is that the business as such does not set and make the right demands.
No breeding ground for innovation
Another reason why it looks the same as it did 30 years ago is that it is not innovative. There has never been the right drive to work on innovation. A bureaucracy, as can be found in any business of any kind, has an inbuilt inertia towards anything called innovation.
Statements of the bureaucrat are for example:
- This is what we have always done and it has worked well.
- We should probably be a little careful in changing… (whatever it is you’re going to change. And many times without justification more than being cautious.)
- We also need to focus on… (fill in something that doesn’t really relate to the main task, but is always allowed to sail up and take our focus.)
- We can’t do that because we need to take into account… (Fill in any reason, because there’s always something to choose from. If it’s not a law, it’s some document somewhere that stipulates something.)
Unfortunately, the public sector is lagging behind
There are big differences between areas, where I am sorry to say that the public sector is lagging behind the private sector. Businesses, whether publicly owned or private, are ahead of non-businesses.
Wherever you are, innovative thinking is called for. To be innovative, you need to put aside the idea that it can’t be done from the start. Because if you’ve decided it can’t be done, well, unfortunately it can’t be done either. Not for you anyway.
As I see it, it’s not a question of resources to be innovative, but more the drive to be innovative. A lot depends on how you think and what measures and delivers success in your business. For the private sector it is quite easy to see, but in many public sector organisations it is unfortunately more murky. It shouldn’t have to be that way.
Innovation supported by technology
For the purposes of this newsletter, we are limiting innovation to the use of modern technology in our operations and processes. Based on that, you can think about how any of the innovative things I describe in this and future newsletters could help you.
Which systems would you like to connect? What systems do you have in your business where you need to sit and move information from one place to another?
Is it the case that someone talked about an e-service, which is then nothing more than an electronic form? There is nothing behind the form at all, but you need to take the information you receive in your email inbox and then enter it into some business system for further processing.
“Is this really innovation?” you might think. “We’ve been doing this for a long time,” you might say. Yes, quite right. It’s nothing new, but it still seems to be hard as hell to get it right. The systems are still like individual islands in the archipelago, with no traffic at all between them.
If you and your business are already aware of the situation on this issue, I congratulate you on a job well done. I also hope that you received the benefits that I describe below? (Feel free to tell us what you’ve been through. Just reply again to this weekly newsletter.)
“It can’t be done”, I still hear people say when I talk about system-to-system integration. Yes, it does. The technology and knowledge is there. It’s more just a question of whether you want to or not. Of course, it should pay to build these links, but I assume that this has already been calculated (for example with a benefit analysis) before proceeding.
I’ve been working on system-to-system integration since the early 90s. Having been involved in 100s of integrations, I can safely say that it works just fine.
Incidentally, I worked many years ago at Frontec, the Swedish IT company that invented what is called the message broker, which connected systems. The program was called AMTrix. (Have you come across it? If so, email me again. It would be nice to know.)
An integration platform
It is very likely that you have an integration platform in your business. It’s probably not called AMTrix anymore but has been upgraded to some newer and more modern version.
However, it is uncertain what the competence of this platform will be. Some invest in in-house expertise to perform so-called integration mappings, while others rely on purchasing the services.
If you invest in your own skills, make sure you don’t become dependent on people. Make sure that several people can work on these integrations so that you have delivery capacity and don’t lose the knowledge if one person leaves or gets sick.
If you invest in buying in the expertise to develop these integrations, make sure you have service agreements with fast delivery. You can’t wait months to get relatively simple integrations done. It is worth paying for a high level of service, as the benefits of having the integrations done are very high.
IT department responsibility?
“But wait Matts, that’s IT’s responsibility, it’s none of my business”, you might say. Yes, IT is in charge of these skills, but that doesn’t mean that you, who may work outside the IT department, don’t have to deal with them.
IT in general is only an enabler for your processes to work as well as you want them to. This means that you need to be the one making the demands on them.
Unless you in the business demand rapidly evolving system-to-system integrations, the IT department will not understand the need either. And if it doesn’t feel the need, it downgrades the issue of system-to-system integrations in favour of some other important element, such as protecting your IT environment from intrusion.
Great benefits by linking systems
I have chosen to highlight this area first in the series as I think it is the most important for you to address. Both because the technology is established and skills are readily available, and because the field is mature enough with many good examples to draw inspiration from.
There are great benefits to be captured here, including:
- You won’t have to carry information twice from one system to another.
- You increase the quality of the information as you only need to quality assure it in one place and then it’s the same information all the way through.
- You avoid correcting errors that occur when moving information from one system to another.
- You don’t have to manually change information in multiple systems when a change is needed.
- You can let the customer in the e-service make sure that the information they enter is correct, combined with the fact that the e-form requires the correct information and checks the input. Right from the start is important.
So sit down and think about what systems you are entering information into and what other systems you want that information to be in. Then do a simple analysis of how much unnecessary work you would save by letting the systems “talk to each other” instead. You’ll quickly see the benefits of investing in system-to-system integration.
Would you like assistance in discussing system integration opportunities? Contact me at email@example.com.
In next week’s weekly newsletter, I’ll be talking about automation and how it can help you in your business. Here we will be able to make our technology do things that many people don’t find valuable anyway. We remove human non-quality work so that we can focus on what we as humans are really good at and necessary to do.
But we’ll do that next week.
Wishing you a wonderfully innovative week ahead.